Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church

Bunyan Agrees – These Kind do not Repent

I have been reading through John Bunyan’s great sermon/article entitled “The Barren Fig Tree.” As you probably know, I maintain that the domestic abuser/sociopath who puts on wool to disguise himself/herself as a Christian, never repents. Never. I have had, on occasion, victims of such people get quite angry with me, insisting that “their God” is big enough to save anyone. But there are some things that even God cannot and will not do – like saving the devil. God will not and cannot save a person who refuses to repent – like Pharaoh.

Bunyan agrees. Listen to what he says as he addresses the Barren Fig Tree – ie, the fruitless “Christian” who has crowded into Christ’s church:

Barren fig tree, can it be imagined that those that paint themselves did ever repent of their pride? Or that those who pursue this world did ever repent of their covetousness? Or that those who walk with wanton eyes did ever repent of their fleshly lusts? Where, Barren Fig Tree, is the fruit of these people’s repentance? No, do they not rather declare to the world that they have repented of their profession (of Christ)? Their pride says they have repented of their humility. Their covetousness declares that they are weary of depending upon God? Where is your fruit, Barren Fig Tree?

The barren fig tree, john bunyan

It is one thing for a sinner to repent, by God’s gracious working and calling, who never played the hypocrite in Christ’s church. It is quite another species of sinner who, for years, play-acts the appearance of a Christian but, like the Pharisees, is a mere whitewashed tomb full of stinking decaying bones.

This kind, this abuser, this sociopath who wears the disguise of eminent saint, never repents. Unlike Saul of Tarsus, the once-Pharisee who became the Apostle Paul, these wicked ones are “holy” only when it benefits them to wear the disguise. But behind the scenes, that mask comes off and they are who they really are – evil and wicked. Paul lived “ignorantly in unbelief” before Christ grabbed him and saved him. Paul was never a mask-wearing hypocrite.

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9 Comments

  1. KB

    Well said. My experience has been churches live in this fantasy world instead of reality believing that God will heal these unrepentant sinners. They expect abuse victims to stay in a marriage with these people. I’m in the process of a divorce from a narcissistic abuser. He’s a little different than some narcissists as he doesn’t rage. He’s very calm and cool and so people don’t believe me when I say the truth of all the years of his emotional abuse. But God knows! I just read Unholy Charade and it’s so nice to read a book by a man who gets this. John Bunyan got it too but the church today has its head in the sand.

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    • Jeff Crippen

      Thank you KB! Your words are well said as well!

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    • Casey T.

      I believe you and understand what you are saying. Mine is a regular nice guy, and has a great ability to play a victim, I believe he is a pathological liar and may have an alternant personality(s). He is outgoing and has a well-crafted ability to mirror what other people are drawn to. His hidden actions are more than troubling, still he has been more than welcomed by a well-meaning church who have ignored my warning. As long as church people focus on the right words or doctrine people espouse to, they will miss the hidden heart of a person that should become apparent through prayer and the Holy Spirit and maybe even a little human investigation.

  2. Veronica Miyake

    This is exactly what I’ve been contemplating the past week. When I would tell a “Christian” that abusers in the visible church don’t change, they would rebuke me and say things like “Jesus can save anyone,” “No sinner is too far gone for the Lord to reach,” and quote scriptures such as Isaiah 59:1 “Indeed, the Lord’s hand is not too short to save, and His ear is not too deaf to hear.” And just as you say, Pastor, and Paul Bunyan affirms, the word is talking about sinners in their sin, not those who profess to be believers!

    They ignore God’s word in Romans 9 altogether and what Paul warned in Acts: “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. And men will rise up from your own number with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them.”‭‭ Acts‬ ‭20:28-30‬

    No where do I read in the Bible that we are to pray for these wolves and try to bring them to repentance. We are to not have anything to do with them and they should be removed from our midst (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). I’ve grown weary of coming up against well intentioned Christians that believe that I am condemning abusers by saying they don’t change. Abusers are wolves, and wolves don’t become sheep. Sinners become sheep when they repent, believe in Jesus Christ and are born again. Abusers are condemned already (John 3:18). Christians like that, and they are pervasive in the visible church, do not want to accept the full character of God, that He is merciful but He is also righteous and holy, and it is a terrifying thing to fall into His hands (Hebrews 10:31).
    ‭‭

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    • Jeff Crippen

      Yep! I know abuse victims who have stayed in the marriage for decades because they had been taught that by doing so and continuing to pray, they could save their abuser.

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      • Wendy

        I was one of those that stayed. I did try to get help, so many times. I stayed for 16 years and prayed my heart out because that is what I was taught my entire life. I was told I needed to do more, be more, and pray more. I was told this for years. It was all so devastatingly confusing at the time.

        My abuser put on a grand show. He sang on the praise team at church, he would open-air preach and “share” the Gospel, and he could voice the most flowery prayers you’ve ever heard, fake the most convincing crocodile tears of “repentance”. He knew what he was doing, it was all a manipulative game. Truly a wolf in sheep’s clothing. No one saw the hell my family went through behind closed doors, he convinced quite a few that I was the problem. That is until the truth came out. If I had not had hard evidence of his cheating, drinking, homosexual promiscuity, animal abuse, etc… who knows what would have happened or how long he could have kept up his charade. I’ve been free for over 2 years now and it’s nice.

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        • Jeff Crippen

          Thank you Wendy. You know, although I have never experienced domestic abuse, I have had decades of being targeted by people just like your ex in the church. Many of them are still actively duping others in various churches to this day. The two simple statements that I absolutely know are true and that help people (especially Christians like yourself) more than anything else I could tell them are these short, terse and true truth statements –

          1. Abusers never change
          2. A marriage to an abuser does not need to be fixed, it needs to be ended.

          Most professing Christians today refuse to accept those two sentences as truth. But they are true. A person who fakes being a Christian and disguises themselves for years as an eminent, holy saint, is never ever going to change. They have no conscience.

          I am VERY glad you are free.

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    • CB

      Very well said!!!

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  3. HealingInHim

    A well-stated post and comments.
    Thank you!

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